Thursday, November 20, 2008

day 323 - bamboo breath...

The Sho.
These are the ancient equivalent to a mouth organ. Generally made from the aged, blackened bamboo of an old thatched roof, they are increasingly hard to find. This one was played at Joken (Lyn's school's) Cultural Day.

The sound of bamboo.
Wind blowing through a bamboo forest shushes like the sea.
You may even hear the percussing of dead ones tapping against each other.
The sound of human breath through the shakuhachi is so much more complex than a modern western metal flute...

The shakuhachi is often called the 'Japanese Bamboo Flute', but there is also a transverse model like the Chinese version. We heard this 80+ year-old gentleman playing this 60 year old flute (which he made himself) at the Shinzaike Autumn Festival. He let me have a go and I was able to jump octaves by tightening my lips, as in shakuhachi. This man could produce beautiful clear notes up in the piccolo range.

The bamboo shakuhachi is necessarily handmade and owes its beautiful markings and curved shape to the bamboo root from which it's made. The bore has to be curved to follow the natural curvature of the selected "wood."

Detail from these living and cut bamboo stumps show the intrinsic patterning so skilfully exploited by the shakuhachi maker.

Being handmade, each of the shakuhachi belonging to Harada-sensei has its own unique properties of appearance and sound quality.

No comments: